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Predators try to stay perfect against Ducks

by Brian Hunter
DUCKS (8-15-5) at PREDATORS (13-11-4)


Last 10:
Anaheim 2-7-1; Nashville 3-6-1

Season series: Third of four meetings this season. The Predators have followed up their six-game ouster of the Ducks in last spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs by claiming a 3-0 win in Nashville on Oct. 29 and a 4-2 victory in Anaheim on Nov. 9. Pekka Rinne has stopped 51 of 53 shots, while Martin Erat and Craig Smith each have a pair of goals in the series.

Big story: Each team has completed just over one-third of its schedule, and at the moment neither would qualify for the postseason. The Predators sit just outside the top eight in the Western Conference and could quickly find themselves in better standing by putting some sort of win streak together. The Ducks' deficit has reached double digits, as they play their fifth game Saturday under new coach Bruce Boudreau.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Coming off Boudreau's first win behind the Anaheim bench, a one-goal triumph over Pacific Division rival Los Angeles, the Ducks received a tall order Thursday in facing the surging Blues -- a team that also make a coaching change this season and took off immediately afterward. Bobby Ryan's goal pulled them into a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes, but the Blues scored twice in the second to take control and held off the Ducks by a 4-2 final.

"I thought we played a pretty good game against a hot team," forward Teemu Selanne said in the Orange County Register. "We're playing way better than we did a couple of weeks ago. But mistakes are killing us. We can't get away with a mistake. That's the story of our season."

Predators: Less than three weeks after suffering a 4-3 overtime loss on home ice to Central Division rival Columbus, the opportunity came along for Nashville to exact revenge on Thursday -- and the Predators did so in dramatic fashion. They trailed 3-1 late in the third period, but after pulling Rinne for the extra attacker got a score from Patric Hornqvist with 1:36 left in regulation and a 6-on-4, power-play goal by Sergei Kostitsyn with 12.1 seconds remaining. That set up Colin Wilson to score the winner 1:45 into the extra period for a 4-3 victory.

"You're not a part of that too often. It was a great way to get back and get something you can build off of -- showing the resiliency and things like that," Wilson said in the Tennessean. "Everybody is going to be feeling good now."

Who's hot: Selanne has 1 goal and 5 assists during a four-game points streak for the Ducks. Ryan has 3 goals and 1 assist in the last two games. … Wilson has 2 goals and 3 assists over his last four games for the Predators. Smith has 1 goal and 4 assists during the same span and leads the team with 22 points.

Injury report:
Anaheim forward Saku Koivu left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Forward Jason Blake (wrist) and defensemen Matt Smaby (thumb) and Lubomir Visnovsky (hand) are on injured reserve. … Nashville forward Blake Geoffrion (arm/shoulder) is on injured reserve.

Stat pack: It's hardly money in the bank when either of these teams enters the third period in front. The Ducks and Predators are tied with a .636 winning percentage when leading after 40 minutes, the worst in the League.

Puck drop:
Anaheim announced the recall of forward Kyle Palmieri on Friday. The 20-year-old was taken with the 26th selection in the 2009 Entry Draft and played 10 games with the big club last season, scoring a goal in his NHL debut against Tampa Bay.
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